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Newsletter No.106 History part 2, MBCV concours

Newsletter Number 106
1st March 2007

Been missing our newsletters? No, you haven't missed a few e-mails or been dropped of our mailing list as several customers have suspected, there hasn't been a monthly newsletter since November last year. Why? Good question!  Things have been very busy both from  a personal and business perspective. However, hopefully things are now back on track and we can get back to monthly newsletters. This one is a bit short but is a start to getting back on track. I have a great article planned for the next newsletter on a 1936 W143 230 so stay tuned. In this newsletter we have part 2 of the M.B Spares history, some interesting facts, and an update on what is going on.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks John and Sandra Green.


New Zealand Mercedes-Benz rally.

Did you know that our near neighbors in NZ both have a Mercedes-Benz club and great website to go with it. The Mercedes-Benz club of New-Zealand website URL is They are running an International rally this Easter based around Palmerston on the North Island.  You can find details here on their website and check this update below recently sent to me by Eddy Fischer, the NZ club President.

Hi everyone,
The Rally planning is going well with only the fine tuning to go, mind you that takes the longest. We have 100 people so far, not to bad seeing we only have 500 members altogether. It is about 50/50 Aus/NZ at the moment - but I expect a late surge from the Kiwis this month. We are opening the dinners, bus trip and steam train trip. separately to our local members to try and get as many as possible to meet you all. These will be paid for separately at full price without subsidy.
Learning from previous Rallies, we have made a few changes and suggestions.
Usually on the Friday night after registration there is some confusion whether you should eat or not before the cocktail party, so we are not having a cocktail party but a barbeque meal prepared by the hotel chefs - no confusion there.
Last year some of our Kiwi participants complained of having to take a black dinner jacket in their luggage, which was only worn for a few minutes when entering the dinning area for the formal dinner. We are saying - please don't bring a dinner jacket, just a tie for the Sunday dinner.
Also different to the last Rally - we are trying to keep a car/transport theme going, rather than visiting old buildings etc.
Southwards Car Museum is world famous - several NSW members joined us a few years ago in a visit here and enjoyed the experience.
You can fly direct from most major Aus cities into Palmerston North with Freedom Air - if you are flying in, let us know your arrival time and we will try to arrange a Club member to pick you up.
We now have some sponsorship from DaimlerChrysler New Zealand so will be able to offer more to participants like wine with the dinners etc.
There is still room for another 8 couples to stay at the Rally venue (Novotel) so tell your fellow Club members to join us.
There was so much trouble with getting the funds over here that we are now accepting NZ cash $250/person on the day of registration only from Australian participants.
See you all soon .......... Eddy Fischer (National President - MB Club of NZ Inc.



M.B Spares & Service history part 2


It has been a few newsletters since part one of the M.B Spares & Service history and I had to go back and read it before starting part two. As mentioned we moved into Fyshwick and opened up trading as Mercedes Spares & Service on the 1st of January 1994 at 18 Lyell St.  Back then we operated out of a small warehouse with no street frontage and with two staff. There was me and Luke who was into Alfa Romeos, but was a very good mechanic.  I can still remember our first day of business, we arrived, did a few cleaning jobs and then wondered what we would do next. Before we could give the question much thought a W115 220 rolled into the door running on three cylinders. A lack of compression on one cylinder was diagnosed and we have both our first job and our first engine rebuild at once. The car has since changed hands a few times since then but it is still running great with the current owner doing his own work with parts brought from us. Since that first day there have been very few days where we have ever had to wonder what would be the next job and in recent years I can't remember a day where we actually managed to get all the work done. I guess that is a complement from our customers.


Now in the last instalment I mentioned that there was a bit of a story about our old trading name and website URL of When I was trading from home I traded as "Merc Spares". However, as I now offered mechanical repairs the obvious name change was to "Merc Spares & Service".  So I went down to the ACT Registrar of Business names and filled out the form. You were allowed four choices so I put down:


                                                                Mercedes-Benz Spares & Service

                                                                Mercedes Spares & Service

                                                                Merc Spares & Service

                                                                Wombat Motors


Now, I must admit I was being a bit cheeky with the first two, and was almost certain that I would wind up with the third choice as I already had "Merc Spares" registered. So much so that I filled in the fourth choice with such a stupid choice. Anyway on the 27th of January 1994 a certificate arrived in the mail with Mercedes Spares & Service as our registered name. A little quick research showed that the name "Mercedes" was not registered as a business name in the ACT!  However little did I know that this little issue would almost bring me to my knees a few years later.


12 months after we opened up we realised that we had to move as we were already bursting at the seams. Every morning we had to run all the cars out and park them on the street and up a the lane beside the workshop. I realised this had to stop after we worked very late one night, put the cars away and came back early the next morning to see that we had forgotten about the cars in the lane and left them out. I had noticed that 14 Lyell St had been vacant for some time and approached the owner. A deal was struck where we could move in on the 1st of January 1995 and buy the building six months later.  The new building was huge by comparison and we enjoyed the extra room.


16 Lyell St was owned by a couple who had recently divorced and  who needed to sell the building in order to settle their affairs. There were running a suspension and wheel alignment business from it. (which meant we didn't have to go far for a wheel alignment). I didn't have the money to buy the building but could already see that we were going to out grow 14 Lyell St some time in the future and would have to move again. So I made them an offer where what ever price they wanted for the building they had to lease it back at 9% annual rental plus CPI plus outgoings for  five years. The deal was done in September 1997 and we had any future expansion plans simplified.


How many of you had an internet connection in 1996? Well we did, and I realised that the internet and a website was most certainly going to be an important part of our business. The logic behind that was that I always planned to see the entire world as my market not just Canberra. Even in the early years we were doing restoration jobs for customers from Sydney and sending parts to the far ends of the world. We even sent a generator for a 300SL Gullwing back to Germany in our first year. So on the 1st of November 1996 we launched Mercedes-Benz Australia had their URL registered before this but did not get their site up until early 1997 and it now gives me quite some pride to be able to claim that we were Australia's First. Within days the e-mails started coming in and we even sold a W114 280CE by e-mail with grainy pictures taken with a digital camera the size of a small  house brick!


During 1996 I rebuilt form a bare shell the W114 280E race car that is featured on this page and now being offered for sale (see below)


In early 1997 the troubles with the business name started. The local authorised Mercedes-Benz dealer changed hands and almost immediately we received a letter from their solicitors demanding that we cease trading using the Mercedes name. It would appear that they had not done their homework too well as our solicitors sent them a copy of the business name registration and nothing more was heard from them.  However in late 1997 it all started to crumble.  We received a letter from the ACT government asking why we were not trading as "Merc Spares".  This letter was sent due to "somebody" sending them a letter asking if they could use the name. I had not let the old name lapse as I always was suspect that there may be an issue with the new name. In order to satisfy the letter of the law we had to erect signs, change letter head and generally start to display the "Merc Spares" name. We did all this and hoped the issue would go the same way as the request from the local dealers solicitors had. However little did I know that all the money spent doing this was a waste as Daimler-Benz AG via their local agents here in Australia had on the 20th of August 1997 registered the word "Merc" as a trademark. Also little did I know (and neither did many other business people back then) that registration of a business name is actually not a licence to use the name. You need to trademark a name to use it........ I found out very quickly.


Everything got very messy, there were Private investigators sent to spy on us ans other tricks to suck up money like the one with the Merc Spares name. So many many tens of thousands of dollars later we changed our name to M.B Spares & Service on the 5th of February 1999.  Mercedes Spares & Service was deregistered on the 16th of February 1999.


Knowing what we do now, we tried to trademark the new name only to find that because the name contained what were considered "common words" it could not be trademarked without engaging a specific trademark attorney and even then there was no guarantee so I just gave up. We did however decide to register the name as a business name in both Victoria and NSW to offer us some safe guard. My father operates as M.B Spares & Service Victoria (and yes we do enough to satisfy the regulations) and as we live in NSW we tried to register it only to find that someone else had since registered M.B Spares in Sydney.  As you can see there is very little logic to the entire system of business names and trademarks here in Australia. This is a classic case of how the Commonwealth and States really need to consider how their actions, or in some cases lack of actions, effect the little people.



More in the next newsletter.


Mercedes-Benz club of Victoria Concours details.


It is time again for the Mercedes-Benz club of Victoria to hold their annual concours.  For those of you who attended last year it was a very wet affair (see below). I have been told by the Victoria club that this time they have remembered to pay off the weather mafia and the day will be fine and sunny this time. The Concours is held in conjunction with the AOMC British and European Show in the Nursery Car Park at Flemington Racecourse this Sunday the 4th of march.  You can find the rules here and the registration form here.


This is always a great day out, you can see some reports and pictures from previous Victorian Concours in Newsletters 72, 87 and  99


What are we up to?

Good question? Lots obviously, as the newsletters have not be coming out.  Firstly, here is what I was up to the at the end of last year and the first two weeks of this year. Every three years the Scouts hold a Jamboree somewhere in Australia for kids aged 12-14 (inclusive). It is a real blast for them, and as I have another life as the District Commissioner for Black Range District I was at the Jamboree with 8500kids (including two of mine) and about 3000 other adults! Here is a shot of our guys outside the gateway to our campsite. If you are interested you can see other pictures of what we got up to here.  Of course this event did not happen by itself and it took a lot of organisation both before and after the event to make it the success that it was.


The construction work that was shown in the last newsletter back in November last year is complete and we are starting to get our NOS parts better sorted out. We have even had another mezzanine floor build in the dismantling shed which will allow use to store our used panels and plastic bumpers much better.


Whilst all of this was being done we have also just finished packing out first order of parts to be sent back to Germany! Yes that is correct we are sending parts back to Germany. Things like new genuine W123 and W116 panels that are almost worthless here but quite desirable back in the father land.


We have spent quite a lot of time learning about our new tools and diagnostic books that came from the old Mercedes-Benz dealer here in Canberra. One great tool we now use on a daily basis is what is called a HHT, this stands for "Hand Held Tester" and was the standard dealership diagnostic tool in the late 90's and very early 00's. It is rather amazing what you can do with it. As for the tools we are still sorting them. Each time we think there may be a specific tool there we have to go and sort through them to see if it is there. When we picked them up they were all in a big jumble with no sense of order so we are very slowly cataloguing them.


Both our workshop and spares department have been swamped with work after Christmas. This has been complicated by one of our technicians resigning to follow another career path. So once again we are on the hunt for more staff. We have started an apprentice but also need a qualified technecian to help with the load in the workshop. We also have been looking for the last six months for another "parts interpreter" . Yes that is what the profession is of the guy who looks up your parts. Without them the automotive industry would come to a complete halt!

So if you know of anybody looking for work who may be suitable for either job please get them to contact me on either 0419 295 458 or 1300 787 300.


We have had several interesting jobs in the last few months including our first clutch replacement on an W168 A class and an endless stream of blown head gaskets!


Link of the month.

- Bored? Try this link. There is hours of fun for those of you who like a challenge and/or dream of owning an AMG!

- Here is a site with some great history on the Mercedes-benz brand.

- Here is an interesting add selling Mercedes-benz's. You need a decent connection speed to view this one.

- This one is just plain interesting!

- And something that just should not be.

Some interesting facts!

OK, most of these are a bit silly but they do make interesting light reading...........

In the 1400's a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.

 Hence we have "the rule of thumb"
Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented.
  It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...

and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the U.S. Treasury .
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%

(now get this...)
The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%
The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven:$6,400
The average number of people airborne over the U.S. in any given hour: 61,000
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades - King David Hearts - Charlemagne Clubs -Alexander, the Great Diamonds - Julius Caesar
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air  the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?  A. Their birthplace
Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?  A. Obsession
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?  A. One thousand
Q. What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common? A. All we re invented by women.
Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil? A. Honey
Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?  A. Father's Day
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened,  making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... "goodnight, sleep tight."
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar  was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts...So in old England , when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down." It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
Many years ago in England , pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!


Cars for Sale.

As it has been awhile since I have had a chance to type a newsletter there has been a large turnover in cars. Some of the more notable ones were the very early 350SLC (chassis number 000108), the restored 220S Roundie sedan, the W109 300SEL that looked just like it did in the late 60's, along with a few W124's and a vert low mileage C280.

Of all the new cars listed below there are two notable ones. My old W114 280E rally car is back on the market. It is currently owned by Chris Righton our service manager and as he has stepped up to a W124 260E it is time to sell. This car has a long history with me and the company. It was fully rebuilt by myself in 1998 to use in Historic rallies and was quite a competitive car. You can see some shots of it here and a detailed article on it here.

The other car is a beautiful W116 450SEL, it is a one owner car with just 101000kms on the clock. Built in late 1979 and sold new late 1980 it must have been one of the last ones sold here in Australia just before the W126 series came out. The car is 100% original and in excellent condition. If you are looking for a car like this an inspection will not disappoint (gee i am starting to sound like a used car sales man!) Details and pictures here, more pictures available on request.

You can check out all our Mercedes-Benz's for sale here.   Or you can check out all the other cars we have for sale here:

New cars into stock:

W114 280E with manual transmission

W124 300CE - 24 coupe

W124 300E sedan

W116 450SEL sedan only 10100kms

W201 190E 2.0, 1993 model!

Also in stock we have:

170S, classic sedan

170SD, classic Diesel sedan

280SE Rare Crayford station wagon

So that's it for another newsletter. Hope you liked what you saw. If you have any ideas or want to contribute any articles, pictures or other material please e-mail me here. Also, don't forget that you can check out the old newsletters here
Thanks, John Green.